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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Recent purchases...

Going to gigs so often tends to mean that I'm always playing catch up when it comes to buying CDs, so for 'recent purchases', read 'things I've bought recently', rather than necessarily stuff that's recently been released.  For the record (no pun intended), I'm still one of those people who would rather buy a 'physical' album rather than downloading it - I tend to only download something if it's the only song I like by a particular band.  I used to go to less gigs than I do nowadays (believe it or not) and buy more albums - it's certainly gone the other way in recent years, but I still buy a fair few and my flat is littered with piles of CDs everywhere you look...

Anyway, December includes the double whammy of my birthday and Christmas, so it's become tradition to give a CD shopping list to my parents to pick from as presents.  I tend to get the odd voucher, too, so that normally adds to the listening pile in the days afterwards.  The list of albums I 'need' grows and grows each year, to the extent that I already have a list several pages long on my PC.  As you would no doubt expect from the geek tendencies I've already demonstrated, it's in alphabetical I may as well continue in the same vein:

Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony/Crimson/Good Mourning/Maybe I'll Catch Fire/Remains

It's strange how some bands pass you by, or you hear a song, dismiss them as 'not your thing', then several years later hear something you like and find yourself changing your mind.  Alkaline Trio are one such band.  I think the turning point came when they were due to play Bristol with a band I'd previously seen (and liked) as support, which led me to listening to more of their stuff online to decide whether I should go.  Needless to say, I ended up buying a ticket - ironically, the support band were a disappointment that evening - but I enjoyed Alkaline Trio and have been catching up on their albums ever since.

Having already bought their self-titled compilation of EPs and the albums 'From Here To Infirmary' and 'Goddamnit' some months earlier, the Amazon birthday voucher (cheers Chris!) went on five more of their albums, bought cheaply secondhand.  Incidentally, is buying CDs secondhand any 'better' than downloading them illegally? I suppose they at least would've got the money first time around...and I guess it makes more sense to 'recycle' an unwanted CD than buy a new one.  I digress.  Of these five albums, 'Good Mourning' is probably the one I like the least, which isn't to say I don't like it at all, but it's hard to pick a standout song.  Here are a few of my favourite tunes:


Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Quite often, it seems to me that award-winning, critically-acclaimed, millions-selling albums are a disappointment.  Happily, this is an exception and deserves all the plaudits it's been given, in my humble opinion.  One advantage of not buying an album on the day of release: I ended up getting the 'deluxe' edition, with two bonus tracks, a code to download two more and a DVD.  Anyone who bought the 'normal' version was probably (rightly) peeved when this came out a few months later...

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare/Humbug

Speaking of disappointing, millions-selling albums - definite 'second album syndrome' on 'Favourite Worst Nightmare', which for the most part, sounds like all the songs which were rejected as not being good enough for the first album.  It's not awful, but there are only about an EPs worth of decent tunes on here.  Funnily enough, the Arctics were another band I voiced my dislike of early on, but then eventually I came round (much to the amusement of certain friends), although I'm sure several less well-championed bands in a similar vein released ignored albums which are better than 'Favourite Worst Nightmare'. 

'Humbug', on the other hand, is far superior - it seems less like a rehash of what they had already done, a bit different and all the better for it.  I expect the first album will remain a millstone around their necks, though.

Ash - Twilight Of The Innocents

You kind of know what you're going to get from an Ash album, which is both a compliment and an insult at the same time.  They stick to what they know, but sometimes that can be a good thing.

Boy Kill Boy - Stars And The Sea

Anyone remember this lot? They seemed to be The Next Big Thing for about five minutes, but split up shortly after this second album was released to general indifference.  A shame, as they're certainly no worse than some other bands around at the same time who got lucky and lasted a lot longer.  If anyone happens to be interested, their singer Chris Peck recently emerged with a new band (Chris Peck and The Family Tree), who are somewhat folkier than Boy Kill Boy.

Brakes - Touchdown

I blimmin' love this band.  It seems they are something of an acquired taste and polarise opinion, but those who like them seem to rave about them.  The 'jokey' songs of their earlier days have lessened in number, but they still have a sense of humour.  I have three of their albums now and still couldn't pick a favourite.

Bromheads Jacket - On The Brain

Bromheads' first album was arguably my favourite of the year in, er, whichever year it came out (2006?), so this had a lot to live up to.  Inevitably, it's not quite as good, but still a pretty decent effort.  'Speaker Box' seemed a rather odd choice for a single.

Gaz Brookfield - Live From The West End Of The M4 Corridor

Unquestionably my 'local' artist of last year, who I first saw at the Acoustic Music Festival in January, a possibly-restraining-order-inducing number of times after that and culminating in a triumphant headline gig at the Fleece just before Christmas as a launch gig for this live album.  If you haven't seen him yet, there's really no excuse - Gaz played 170 gigs in 2011 and intends to better this in 2012...

Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler - This Is Christmas

It feels a little odd to be writing about a Christmas album in February, but still...I bought this after their in-store performance at Rise Records in December.  Here's the Christmas number 1 which never was:


Belated Happy New Year, one and all :)  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gigography - Part 1: 1996/1997

Hello.  So, a blog at last.  I'll be posting some newer stuff here eventually - new bands I've come across, stuff I'm currently listening to etc., but to start with, an updated version of the 'gigography' I started on MySpace, back when people actually used to go on there regularly...

So, here we are, a complete list of the first year-and-a-bit of gigs I attended after moving to Bristol.  God knows why I decided to record every gig I went to in a diary, but it's a habit I've kept up until the present day...looking back all these years later is quite interesting (to me, at least).  So many 'where are they now?'s, all those bands seen in small venues and as support bands who ended up bigger than the bands I saw them supporting...and also, admittedly, a fair few gigs I have no memory of going to whatsoever (must be the old age). 

A few support bands aren't recorded, which either means I didn't see them or had no idea who they were (or, I suppose, that there wasn't any support).  I still have a flyer for the first ever gig I went to - hoarding stuff such as that must be a talent of some sort, maybe...


BENNET + The Psychodaisies – The Louisiana, Bristol 19/10/96 (Most people probably have a boy band or something equally dodgy for their first gig, but this was mine.  Start as you mean to go on?)
MANSUN + The Nicotines – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 27/11/96
CARTER THE UNSTOPPABLE SEX MACHINE + The Slingbacks – The Square, Harlow 14/12/96 (The day before my 18th birthday.  I remember a girl climbing on stage and diving off, only to be missed by everyone and knocking herself out on the floor.  Having regained consciousness, a few minutes later she was back on stage and succeeded in being caught second time around.  I imagine her head hurt in the morning.)
THE PECADILOES – The Square, Harlow 20/12/96


KENICKIE + Orlando + Aerola – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 24/1/97
GENEVA + Tiger + Symposium + 3 Colours Red – Bristol University Anson Rooms 25/1/97
THE SLINGBACKS –The Louisiana, Bristol 27/1/97
THE BOO RADLEYS + The Supernaturals + 18 Wheeler – Bristol University Anson Rooms 30/1/97
BENNET + Sourpuss – The Louisiana, Bristol 31/1/97
SILVER SUN + The Grass-Show + Don – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 6/2/97
THE CANDYSKINS + Crashland + Little America – The Louisiana, Bristol 14/2/97
LONGPIGS + Travis + Embrace – Bristol University Anson Rooms 18/2/97
REEF + Feeder + Number One Cup – Bristol University Anson Rooms 22/2/97
MUNDY – The Louisiana, Bristol 25/2/97
POSH + Junkie + Kenisia – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 26/2/97
TELSTARR + The Marys – The Louisiana, Bristol 27/2/97
BABYBIRD + Bawl – Bristol University Anson Rooms 1/3/97
PAVEMENT + The Pastels – Bristol University Anson Rooms 5/3/97
GENE + The Supernaturals + Rollerco – Colston Hall, Bristol 6/3/97
THE DIVINE COMEDY + Jacques – Bristol University Anson Rooms 8/3/97
SPEEDY + Sister Ray – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 12/3/97
MANSUN + Travis – Bristol University Anson Rooms 17/3/97 (This gig was the one and only time I have ever paid over the odds for a ticket from a tout.  I even commemorated this in my diary, with '£20 ticket!' scrawled alongside the date.  I imagine I soon regretted paying so much, although a few years later, it probably cost that sort of money just to see Travis!)
A C ACOUSTICS + Cable – The Louisiana, Bristol 18/3/97
TC:HUG + Elliot Green – The Louisiana, Bristol 21/3/97 (This gig reached 'legendary' status as far as me and Chris were concerned, as it went down in memory as one of the best gigs we'd been to, and from a band we barely even knew.  We both bought their album in the old Replay by the bus station the following day - my copy was on tape as I still didn't have a CD player - but we never saw or heard of the band again.  Maybe this was a good thing, as to this day we still don't know if they really were amazing or if it was just the alcohol.  It would be a shame to spoil it after all this time!)
MANTARAY + Mover – The Louisiana, Bristol 28/3/97
GORKY'S ZYGOTIC MYNCI + Snowpony – Bristol Bierkeller 22/4/97
CARTER THE UNSTOPPABLE SEX MACHINE + Midget – Bristol Bierkeller 23/4/97
BENNET – in-store, HMV Bristol 25/4/97
THE SMILES + Soeza – The Louisiana, Bristol 25/4/97 (I remember going to this gig with Chris by accident, as I was under the impression Penthouse were playing.  They weren't, but as we'd already got to the Louie, we decided to go anyway.  I've no idea what The Smiles sounded like, but sadly the night has stuck in the memory as it was when both me and Chris were punched by a drunk bloke for no reason whatsoever while on the way to the Bierkeller after the gig.  He'd just been thrown out of the Porthouse for fighting and we happened to be walking past at the time.  Maybe my black eye and Chris' split lip are the reason I can't remember the gig...?)
GECKO + Sister Ray + Dry – The Louisiana, Bristol 29/4/97
THE BIGGER THE GOD + Scooby Does – The Louisiana, Bristol 2/5/97
KENICKIE + Ballroom + CapriBristol Bierkeller 14/5/97
ARNOLD + The Hybirds + Dry – The Louisiana, Bristol 16/5/97
THE SUPERNATURALS + The Grass-Show – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 19/5/97
SYMPOSIUM + You Am I + 'A' – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 21/5/97
TRAVIS + Manna – The Louisiana, Bristol 23/5/97
SALAD – The Louisiana, Bristol 24/5/97
SPECTRASONIC + Sand – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 25/5/97
SILVER SUN + Scarfo + Carrie – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 26/5/97
THE WANNADIES + The Warm Jets + Westpier – Bristol Bierkeller 27/5/97
CABLE + Garageland + Melt – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 28/5/97
SUBCIRCUS + The Pecadiloes – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 3/6/97
SANTA CRUZ + Airbus – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 8/6/97
GENEVA + Mainstream – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 11/6/97
AEROLA + Bunker Deep – The Louisiana, Bristol 12/6/97
HURRICANE #1 + Wireless – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 16/6/97
LINOLEUM + Feline – The Louisiana, Bristol 17/6/97
THE PSYCHODAISIES + Victor – The Louisiana, Bristol 21/6/97
THIRST + Contrast + Snug + Stone Pony – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 10/7/97 (Snug featured a certain Ed Harcourt, some years before a dramatic change in musical direction!)
SCARFO + Broccoli + Disco – The Louisiana, Bristol 15/7/97 (Similarly, Jamie from Scarfo is now in The Kills and married to Kate Moss.  Wonder what he would have said if you'd told him at the time how things would pan out...?)
AEROLA + The Psychodaisies + The Bolsheviks + Cheese – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 18/7/97
BRISTOL COMMUNITY FESTIVAL 1997: Sister Ray + The Beatnik Filmstars + Umbrella + Spectrasonic + The Psychodaisies + Copter + Sourpuss + Loud, Ugly & Crap + Angel Tech + Babacar + Pregnant + Subcircus + Doreen Doreen – Ashton Court Estate, Bristol 19-20/7/97
DREAM CITY FILM CLUB – The Louisiana, Bristol 23/7/97
THE STEREOPHONICS + The Driven – The Thekla, Bristol 28/7/97
SCOOBY DOES + Strangers Within + Astrid – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 31/7/97 (This wasn't the same Astrid who were signed to Fantastic Plastic Records - I assume they were a local band with the same name.)
GECKO + Copter + Nadir – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 2/8/97
AIRBUS + Sister Ray – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 7/8/97
THE BETA BAND + Park + Sofa – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 2/8/97
FEEDER + Freekspert + Sand – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 12/10/97
THE PSYCHODAISIES + Thirst + Chaser – The Louisiana, Bristol 15/10/97 (Chaser were effectively an early incarnation of Halo.)
CATATONIA + Big Leaves – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 26/10/97
RADISH + Addict – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 29/10/97 (Ben Kweller's old band.  Embarrassingly, the only memory I have of this gig is that I was asked for ID - I seem to remember everyone was being asked as it was during half term.  I didn't have any on me, so had to drink water all night, even though I was less than two months short of my 20th birthday.) 
ETHER – in-store, HMV Bristol 30/10/97
WIRELESS + Sister Ray – The Louisiana, Bristol 31/10/97
THE FLAMING STARS + Iron Botham – The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 9/11/97
'A' + Glitterbox – The Louisiana, Bristol 14/11/97
RADIOHEAD + DJ Shadow + Teenage Fanclub – Cardiff International Arena 15/11/97 (The first 'big' gig I ever went to - Radiohead on the 'OK Computer' tour.  It was outstanding.  Unfortunately, sometime during the gig, my friend Paul and I somehow lost each other, having already found out earlier in the evening that the trains didn't run late enough to get home.  I ended up sleeping (or rather trying to) outside Cardiff Central station until the first train of the next day, having escaped a somewhat scary woman who was trying to talk me into going to a secret party at a boarded up house where 'everyone's sorted'.  Hmm.  Paul, meanwhile, stumbled onto the first train that turned up and ended up in Birmingham.)
CARRIE + The Dandys – The Louisiana, Bristol 21/11/97
DAWN OF THE REPLICANTS + Crashland – The Louisiana, Bristol 28/11/97
ECHOBELLY + Rialto + Bennet - Bristol University Anson Rooms 2/12/97
EMBRACE + Gomez – Bristol University Anson Rooms 6/12/97 (I bought tickets to the Echobelly and Embrace gigs instead of paying more to see Blur in Cardiff with Super Furry Animals as support.  I doubt this is the last time I made a questionable ticket buying decision.) 
THE BETA BAND - The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol 9/12/97

An array of videos from bands I saw in '96/'97.  Ah, nostalgia...